Yogurt Substitute and My Thoughts
To be honest, I first made these recipes because I thought they were bogus. Turns out they actually worked out. I remember when I was making them I though to myself, “what the heck am I doing”. In hindsight, it makes sense; but enough of this ominous introduction let’s get into a vegan yogurt recipe and variations that are dialed in to perfection.
What is Vegan Yogurt or a Yogurt Substitute?
Traditionally, yogurt is made from the bacterial fermentation of animal milk products. The bacteria used to ferment are called cultures. Just like other bacteria, these cultures require a specific environment to grow. These organisms are commonly known as “good bacteria” or probiotic bacteria.
Vegan yogurt or yogurt substitute vary in definition from recipe to recipe. Some recipes imitate the flavor and consistency, while others actually use probiotic bacteria to replicate the fermentation process. If done right, both types of recipes are delicious and useful.
Most vegan yogurts are made out of nondairy milk. You can choose which ever you prefer, I’m an oat milk kind of guy so I tend to use that. It really just depends on what I have in my fridge. I have found that the best vegan yogurt is made from coconut milk preferably the full fat renditions.
Vegan Yogurt Ingredients
So, when making vegan yogurt you have to go a little out of the box. Using fermentation defies the rules of food storage and temperatures. If done right then it is completely safe and delicious, like most fermented ingredients.
Making yogurt substitute is only a two-ingredient process for some vegan yogurt recipes. So, it is important to make sure you have the best ingredients for the job
From my research and experience, I have found that using oat milk or soy milk produce the best results. I believe they ferment really well. You can use whatever nondairy milk you want, as long as it unsweetened.
This is where it gets a bit weird. You will need a vegan probiotic to make this yogurt substitute recipe work. There are a couple good brands to use on the market. There is the Vegan Ultimate Care Probiotic with 100 billion cultures. This is the one I use, because it has the most cultures and I get great results from it.
There is also Garden of Life Probiotic 200 Billion . This a high strength probiotic that has a high culture count. This will give your vegan yogurt a bit of a boost in thickness. This is a good choice for someone who likes Greek yogurt.
How to Make Vegan Yogurt
Making this substitute for yogurt is really quite simple, you just have to follow some rules. You first need to sterilize the nondairy milk with out scalding it.
This is a simple process; you simply place the nondairy milk in a sauce pot over medium heat and slowly heat it up to 180 F. This is right before a boil; you will see little bubbles starting to form.
Now that the milk is sterilized, you need to remove it from the heat and let it cool at room temperature. Once your milk has dropped down to 115F to 110F it is time to add the cultures. Do so by opening up a capsule and pouring it in and stir gently.
Once you have poured the capsule in the yogurt substitute. Transfer the liquid to a container with a lid and place in warm place. Your oven with the light on is a good place to keep it warm, you want it to be about 100 F constantly. Let the mixture sit in the oven over night, at least 12-24 hours.
After the allotted time, pull out the substitute for yogurt. You will see it has thickened a lot, but it still doesn’t look like yogurt. Don’t worry, after you refrigerate it; it will tighten up considerably. Once its cool, its ready to eat!
Best Vegan Yogurt Add-Ons
These yogurt substitute add-ons are for a 6 oz portion of vegan yogurt. These can be used as toppings or mixed in; however, you like! Here are some combinations I enjoy the most! Just to name a few.
Almond Joy- 1 Tbsp sliced almonds, 1 Tbsp dark chocolate, ½ Tbsp shredded coconut over the top of the yogurt substitute.
Apple Pie- In a mixing bowl combine 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 Tbsp diced apples. Spoon over the vegan yogurt. Then garnish with 1 tbsp of graham cracker crumbs.
Macerated Blueberry- In a mixing bowl add 3 oz blueberries, 1 Tbsp sugar, ½ tsp vanilla extract. Wait a minute for the liquid to be released, then spoon over substitute for yogurt.
Peanut butter and Jelly- 1 ½ Tbsp Peanut Butter and 1 Tbsp grape jelly mixed in with vegan yogurt.
Best Vegan Yogurt Tricks and Tips
Sterilize your nondairy milk by heating it in a sauce pot to 180F. While heating your milk, do so gently so your milk doesn’t scald. If the milk scalds or boils over, you have to start over.
To avoid scalding, gently whisk the milk from time to time. You should also heat the liquid over medium heat. This process will take some time, but it will come out right.
Heavy Bottomed Pot
Using a heavy bottomed pot is good for this vegan yogurt recipe. You want this type of pot because the bottom retains a constant heat and more evenly spaced heat. This makes not scalding your milk a little easier, but it takes a bit longer to heat up.
Candy thermometers are the best food grade thermometers out there. They are designed to give accurate readings on one of the most aggressive substances, sugar.
Use this thermometer so you know exactly when to take it off the heat. Then, as it cools, you will know exactly when to add the cultures.
Ferment in Glass
Fermentation works best when in glass. Other materials like plastic or metal will make the fermenting substance go under a chemical reaction that can either ruin the flavor, the vessel, or the entire fermented product.
Once the probiotic is added and the liquid is ready to ferment. Transfer to a glass container or jars. I like using mason jars because they have a good seal and you can use smaller sizes for portioning.
Slow Cooker or Instapot Option
You can speed up your yogurt substitute by using one of these handy machines. Once your probiotics are added to the milk, transfer the milk starter into jars with lids. Then place the jars in your slow cooker or instapot and fill the jars 3/4s the way up with water.
Finally, you want to set your cooker to warm. Once set to warm let it be. This process could take up to 8 hours to thicken up. Once thick, transfer to the fridge to set up the rest of the way.
This recipe needs a sweetening agent. Not to make the yogurt sweet, because the sweetener in this recipe wont. Its to help the probiotic bacteria grow and make the actual vegan yogurt. The sweetener “feeds” the bacteria in a sense.
This substitute for yogurt takes about 4 to 6 hours to set up all the way in the fridge. After that it is ready to enjoy. This vegan yogurt is best if eaten within a two-week period.
1 heavy bottomed pot
1 candy thermometer
Glass jars or a glass container
Best Vegan Yogurt
Yield: 1 Quart
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 qt Oat Milk
1 each Probiotic Capsule
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Sugar
- Put oat milk into a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Heat this liquid until it reaches 200 F. Monitor the heat intensively using a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, 200F is right before boiling so you will start to see little bubbles on the surface.
- Once heated to temp, remove from the heat, and allow to cool at room temperature. Leave the thermometer in the liquid so you can still monitor the heat.
- Add in the maple syrup or sugar.
- Once the liquid cools to 112-115F add your probiotic by removing it from the capsule and pouring it in. Stir gently until mixed.
- Transfer the mixture into glass jars or glass containers of your choice. The place the jars in a warm spot for 12- 24 hours.
- Once the mixture has thickened, transfer to the fridge to let cool and set completely. This will take 4-6 hours to cool down completely.
If you don’t like oat milk, or just want to try another non dairy milk. Try out my homemade almond milk recipe here!
Best Vegan Yogurt FAQs
1. Can I use almond milk for my yogurt?
Yes, you can, just follow the recipe with almond milk and it will work fine. Just don’t use sweetened almond milk.
2. Why can’t I use sweetened nondairy milk?
The reason you shouldn’t use sweetened nondairy milk, is because of the food additives in the sweetened varieties kill the fermentation process. These food additives or preservatives are designed to stop this from happening.
3. I like this yogurt substitute a lot, but how can I make it thicker like Greek yogurt?
For a thicker Greek yogurt, you can either use cheese cloth that has been folded over itself 2-3 times or you can use a nut milk bag. Let this hang and drip until it is to your specified needs.
4. Do I have to use a probiotic capsule?
No, you can actually put 1 Tbsp of store-bought yogurt at the bottom of each glass jar. Then pour your sterilized nondairy milk in the jar. Then follow the recipe!
5. Can I make this without an instapot?
Absolutely, the substitute for yogurt just needs to be in a warm environment. The temp need to be around 110 to 115 F. You can culture this any place around those temperatures. Most people like to wrap the jars in a towel and place in the oven with the light on.